In 2017, Lower Susquehanna Synod Lutherans will join with other Lutherans across the ELCA and around the world to observe the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. We hope you will visit this page frequently for updates and resources that will help your congregation shape its observance of this anniversary, as well as learn how you can join with others across our synod for worship, learning, service, and sharing opportunities. Our synod’s task force for this observance is chaired by Pastor Rob Myallis (St. Paul Lutheran Church, Lititz).
Introduction to the Observance
When Martin Luther posted his “Ninety-Five Theses” or “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517, the resulting debate about Christian teaching and practice led to changes that have shaped the course of Western Christianity for almost 500 years. At the heart of these wide-reaching changes was a deep conviction that God’s mercy or grace in Jesus is given freely to all. When Luther and others learned to trust God’s mercy with “a living, daring confidence,” they discovered in that faith the freedom to give themselves generously, lovingly in all of life’s undertakings with everyone they met.
This message of God’s mercy in Christ proclaimed and taught by the 16th-century evangelical (or “Lutheran”) reformers continues to have liberating power. In an age captive to voices and experiences of unrelenting judgment and condemnation, as well as to fears and doubts about God’s trustworthiness, the evangelical Lutheran Reformation offers the promise of God’s love that makes possible a life of “living, daring confidence in God’s grace.”
In particular, the Lutheran Reformation offers to Christian communities everywhere a liberating way of listening to and speaking the Scriptures. The attention to “what preaches Christ” (was Christum treibt) and the distinction between law and promises liberates Christians from legalistic interpretations that trap people in judgment, condemnation and exclusion from God’s mercy in Christ.
“Freed and Renewed in Christ” is the theme for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s churchwide observance of the 500th anniversary of the evangelical Lutheran Reformation that began with the Ninety-Five Theses that Martin Luther first made public on October 31, 1517. “500 Years of God’s Grace in Action” is a tagline that has been incorporated with the theme into a single graphic representation.
The theme and tagline reflect the message of Christian faith’s freedom and a renewed life of service to others in Jesus Christ that Martin Luther expressed in The Freedom of a Christian (1520). In that treatise Luther famously wrote that, “A Christian is lord of all, completely free of everything; a Christian is a servant, completely attentive to the needs of all” (Martin Luther, The Freedom of a Christian.)
Traveling 95 Theses on the Move!
Our synod has three “Traveling 95 Theses” banners that are making their way to congregations across our synod. Click here to learn more, download a schedule, and find out how and when you can participate. You’ll also be able to access a study guide.
LSS Reformation 500 Spotlight
Throughout the year, we will highlight what our synod congregations are doing in observance of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. Click here to be redirected to the Reformation 500 Spotlight Page. If your congregation has something planned, please contact Sharron Blezard with information (firstname.lastname@example.org) so that we can share your ideas and events with others across our synod.
Visit our Synod Resource Center for films, books, and Reformation curricula!
Links to Additional Resources
Click here to be redirected to the ELCA 500th Anniversary website where you’ll find plenty of information, ideas, and resources. Grants are also available.
Click here to read about resources available from Augsburg Fortress Publishers.
Check out these wonderful resources produced by the North Carolina Synod to help observe the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation! “Ever Reforming” is a cross generational study resource edited by Dr. Mindy Makant and The Rev. Dr. Eric Childers. Click here to access a downloadable PDF file. Click here to download coloring pages created by Robbin Isenhour Stewart to accompany the study resource.
Click here for a 22-page PDF publication entitled #HereIstand. Martin Luther, the Reformation, and its Consequences. This wonderful resource was produced a cooperation of the State Museum of Prehistory in Halle (LDA, overall responsibility), the Luther Memorials Foundation of Saxony-Anhalt (SLG), the Deutsches Historisches Museum (DHM) and the Foundation Schloss Friedenstein Gotha (SSFG) with the support of the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany.